UFC 297: Du Plessis edges Sean Strickland, wins undisputed belt


Dricus Du Plessis vs Sean Strickland UFC 297

Dricus Du Plessis celebrates after defeating Sean Strickland in a middleweight title bout during the UFC 297 mixed martial arts event in Toronto early Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO — The hostility brewing between Sean Strickland and Dricus Du Plessis finally hit its boiling point at UFC 297 on Saturday night.

The two battled through five rounds, taking the bout to the distance, but in the end it was Du Plessis taking Strickland’s middleweight belt after bloodying the former champ over his left eye and winning a split decision.

Judges Derek Cleary and Eric Colon scored the bout 48-47 in favor of Du Plessis, while Sal D’Amato had it 48-47 for Strickland.

“This is history!” Du Plessis (21-2) screamed in honor of his homeland. “South Africa … we can probably hear them from outside. That country is amazing.”

It was December when Du Plessis referenced Strickland’s abusive relationship with his father. Strickland let it be known that would not be tolerated, and violent recourse would result.

At UFC 296 in December, Strickland jumped over a row of seats and threw punches at Du Plessis — which both said was nowhere near a publicity stunt.

Nothing about the fight was nowhere near a stunt, as the two traded blows, both delivering severe blows, especially in the latter rounds.

Dricus Du Plessis vs Sean Strickland UFC 297

Sean Strickland, left, is taken down by Dricus Du Plessis during a middleweight title bout at UFC 297 in Toronto early Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Despite the tension leading up to fight night, Du Plessis gave Strickland (28-6) his just due afterward.

“Every time he hits you with that jab it feels like someone hit you with a rock. You are one heck of a man, thank you for bringing out the best of me tonight,” Du Plessis said. “The first three rounds were give and take, but the last two, I was desperate rounds four and five.”

To which Strickland later replied: “I called it from day one — it was going to be a war.”

At FanDuel, the fight closed a pick’em with both priced at -108, which means a bettor would have to lay $108 to win $100.

Raquel Pennington (16-9-0) beat Mayra Bueno Silva (10-3-1) by unanimous decision to claim the vacant women’s bantamweight championship in the co-main event. Pennington was listed as the underdog in the match.

Neil Magny (29-12-0) stopped Mike Malott (10-2-1) at the 4:45 mark of the third round of their welterweight match.

Chris Curtis (31-10-0) took a split decision over Marc-Andre Barriault (16-7-0) in their middleweight bout. Curtis took two scores of 30-27 Curtis, while Barriault won 29-28 on a third scorecard.



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In the first match on the undercard, Movsar Evloev remained undefeated (17-0-0) with a unanimous decision over Arnold Allen (19-3-0). All three judges scored it 29-28. Evloev, who owns the second-longest active winning streak in the UFC featherweight division (7), ran his overall UFC win streak to eight straight.





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